Fiber Friday is here and today I'd like to share what I hope will become a regular feature: an interview with a full-time fiberist! I've gushed over her beautiful batts, and now I'm happy to share some insight into the world of Hobbledehoy. Liz (aka hobbledehoy) is a successful full-time spinner with a thriving Etsy shop. She candidly shares the realities of life as a spinster on her blog. I find her blog and business inspring but I was curious about her beginnings, so I asked some questions and she generously answered:
How'd you get started spinning?
I've been a long-time fan of the Craftster.org forums, and discovered novelty spinning on one of the boards there. I'm a bit obsessive with new hobbies, and will gobble up all the information I can find about a specific craft before trying it out. I ordered a spindle and dyed wool yarns with KoolAid while I waited for it to arrive. A week later, I ordered a wheel. It all happened so fast- most of those first few weeks are a blur. None of it would have been possible or affordable if it weren't for mill end wool providers and a lucky Etsy search (where I discovered a used Babe wheel for sale).
Which came first: the spinning or the bunny?
I spent a full year spinning before I brought little Huxley home. I had no idea what to expect- processing fiber from my own animal. Fortunately, Huxley is a sweetie and doesn't mind sitting still for hours while I snip away his fluff (I'm too scared to pluck! Plus, it makes him antsy).
How did your business begin?
Actually, I was selling one inch buttons and simple earrings on Etsy- two or three months before I began spinning and selling yarn. The business-y aspects of selling yarn began when I realized that in order to afford fiber to spin, I had to sell what was spun. I'm not much of a knitter, and would literally spend days cranking out new yarns- that's a lot of fiber!
Did you set out from the beginning of it to have a "business" and be "self-employed"?
No. I just wanted to rake in enough cash to pay for textbooks and student fees. When I sat down to chart my profit, I realized that I could probably spin yarn for a living- especially since the cost of living in this area is relatively low. I live frugally, but am able to make ends meet by taking overhead production costs into consideration.
What led to your self-employment? How did you make the decision to being "full-time"?
I was working approximately 20 hours a week in college, taking 18 credit semesters. When I added spinning to my already compressed schedule, I decided that something needed snipped. I made the decision to quit my part time job when I noticed a trend with my sales- 80% were to returning customers. I decided that if I could sustain a base of loyal customers and continually lure in new shoppers through branding and marketing efforts, I just might be able to squeak by with my hobby. Now, I'm preparing to start clocking in full 40 hour work weeks with my business, possibly branching onto a website this Fall. I've been keeping my head above water, just slightly, until now, but am looking forward to building a more structured and less spontaneous business.
Thanks Liz, for sharing your business beginnings! And to further make your Fiber Friday, Liz posted a little tutorial for corespinnig (instructions here):